Bicyclists share rights

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, June 07, 2004

This letter is in response to Connie Tonsgard's appalling statement to "keep bikes off the road." First of all, Steve Wolf's concerns were regarding Fritz Cove Road, which is not considered a highway closed to bicycle traffic. In fact, Fritz Cove is a residential road through a neighborhood with a posted speed limit of 35 mph. I live on this road, ride my bike, and am subjected to the daily violations of state traffic laws. Connie's accusation that bike riders are "breaking the law" is entirely false unless of course she is referring to some sections of Egan Drive. The state of Alaska legally classifies bicycles as vehicles. As such they are allowed on most roads in the state, with the exception of freeways and expressways. This does not include Fritz Cove Road. In fact, of the 14,000 miles of road in Alaska, fewer than 100 miles are closed to bicycles. Fritz Cove Road does not have a designated bike lane; it has a very narrow shoulder lined with mailboxes and driveways, making it difficult for bike traffic to safely stay on the right side of the white line.

There are bicyclists and vehicle operators who do not follow the rules of the road. Connie is correct that riding two abreast is illegal, and unsafe. Bikers should be courteous and move as far to the right as is safely possible, but are in no way obligated to stay to the right of the white line to make way for oversized vehicles.

People ride their bikes for many reasons. Bikes provide a means for maintenance of physical fitness in a society inundated with obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Many people ride bicycles in an effort to reduce air and water pollution in their communities and the world. Motor vehicles are unarguably major contributors to both. I encourage Connie and all Juneau residents to read the Alaska state bicycle laws. Bicycles have all the same rights and responsibilities as your gas-guzzling, air-polluting, extra-wide motor vehicle.

Kristen Chamberlain


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